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If you’re sitting at the bar in Cheapskates in Olde Town Arvada, you might feel like you’re being watched. Pennywise, the clown from the movie based on the Stephen King novel “IT,” peers ominously across the bar while holding his iconic balloon.
The sketch of the character from the recent horror movie is fitting as Halloween approaches and is just one of many drawings that has appeared on the chalkboard wall at the end of the bar throughout the past two and a half years.
Chris Schulte is the man behind the chalk that creates those images 10 to 12 times each year.
“I’ve always liked to doodle whenever I can … just fun, nothing professionally,” Schulte said.
Schulte, an Arvada resident, holds an art degree from Metropolitan State University that he received in 1995. However, he’s worked for RTD the past 20 years. It wasn’t until his fiance, Devo Wilson, started working at Cheapskates bar and grill that Schulte started making art publicly for the first time since college.
“They usually put their specials there and I just happened to put a little caricature there, just as a joke, and they really liked it, so every holiday or special event I was able to elaborate upon that,” Schulte said.
He said the ominous clown is a break from his typical style. Humor is Schulte’s preferred style.
“Usually it’s more funny because it’s a bar and appeals to that spirit,” Schulte said.
He said this past Easter showcased one of his favorites that included rabbits in a circle mounting each other and Easter eggs replaced with beer cans. Another recent favorite was last Thanksgiving’s cartoonish image of a pilgrim shooting a turkey.
Holidays and special events, like Harvest Festival, are usually what prompt the wall to be wiped clean to make room for Schulte’s latest creation.
He does take a serious tone, like for Veteran’s Day when he included fighter jets as a nod to his own service in the Air Force.
The artwork can be a topic of conversation in the bar, but it gets a lot of attention during the creative process, Schulte said.
“The best part is actually when I’m drawing it,” Schulte said. “It’s kind of like listening to music for some people, they’re actually watching someone draw. I look back and everyone is just staring at me, so I think that’s very fun — it’s like my artistic music in a way, just watching people appreciate with their eyes instead of their ears.”
He uses liquid chalk markers for the main parts of the drawings then regular chalk for touch ups and shading. His preferred medium has been charcoal, so this is similar to his personal artwork.
Schulte said the artwork is done just for fun, his only “payment” is usually some beer.
“Four years in school and I get a couple beers, so that works out for me,” Schulte quipped.
But that’s not what it’s about.
“Just bring smiles on people’s faces, that’s payment enough for me, really, just to see people appreciate it and enjoy, it” Schulte said.
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